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People who make less money more likely to have high blood pressure

Wednesday, March 06, 2013 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: income, blood pressure, workers

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(NaturalNews) Workers who earn less money are significantly more likely to develop high blood pressure (hypertension) than workers who earn more, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of California-Davis and published in the European Journal of Public Health. The link between low wages and high blood pressure was especially high among women and younger adults, both groups that are typically at a lower risk for hypertension.

"We were surprised that low wages were such a strong risk factor for two populations not typically associated with hypertension, which is more often linked with being older and male," lead author J. Paul Leigh said. "Our outcome shows that women and younger employees working at the lowest pay scales should be screened regularly for hypertension as well."

The study was partially funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in three U.S. adults suffers from hypertension. Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, two of the country's leading causes of disability and death.

Prior studies have linked lower socioeconomic status to a higher risk of hypertension, but none have successfully pinpointed which of the elements that contribute to that status place people at the highest risk. Researchers have previously focused on variables such as education, insurance coverage, occupation and job strain, but without any conclusive results. The new study was the first to look at wages specifically.

Money does matter

The researchers examined the data on 5,651 households participating in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a highly regarded, long-term study on the employment, wages and health of U.S. families. The researchers examined information on household heads and their spouses from 1999-2001, 2001-2003 and 2003-2005. All participants were employed and between the ages of 25 and 65. People with hypertension at the start of any given sample were excluded from the analysis.

The researchers calculated wages by dividing total annual income (from all sources) by total hours worked. Wages ranged from $2.38 to $77 per hour (in 1999 dollars). Hypertension was based on participant self-reports of a diagnosis from a doctor.

The researchers found that over time, doubling a persons' hourly wage was associated with a 16 percent lower risk of hypertension. Over the course of a single year, doubling the wage led to a 0.6 percent decrease.

"That means that if there were 110 million persons employed in the U.S. between the ages of 25 and 65 per year during the entire timeframe of the study - from 1999 until 2005 - then a 10 percent increase in everyone's wages would have resulted in 132,000 fewer cases of hypertension each year," Leigh said.

Because the connection between lower wages and hypertension was so strong in women and younger workers, increasing their wages likewise had a dramatic effect. Doubling the wages of workers between the ages of 24 and 44 decreased their risk by as much as 30 percent, while doubling the wages of women decreased their risk up to 35 percent.

Sources for this article include:http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/publish/news/newsroom/7334

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